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February 10, 1967

A panel of seven seniors discussed their Vassar educations with the Trustee Committee on Undergraduate Life. Discussing “the relative merits of ‘bigness’ and the drawbacks thereof,” “Vivian Bland ’67, who spent her junior year in Princeton’s critical languages program, found the level of “intellectual blood, sweat and tears” at the university on a par with that at Vassar, but she felt that the university perspective lent a sense of greater pupose to the work. Rosemary Boyd ’67, a mathematics major, found the criticism of small college math departments unjust. “The Vassar education,” she said, “is not designed to educate the men who can be educated anywhere.” “I have learned here,” she concluded, “to respect myself as a mathematician and a woman.”

Kathleen McAfee ’67, a biology major and Matthew Vassar scholar and the president of the Vassar Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), declared herself “rather bitterly disappointed with my intellectual experience at Vassar.” A consistenty low level of expectation among the faculty and the “general maternalism of rules and regulations at Vassar”—along with an ineffectual College Government Association (CGA)—led, she said, to a general fear of experimentation at the college. But, Miss McAfee added, “the depth of my alienation is not shared by all students.” Sara Linnie Slocum ’67, a former editor-in-chief of The Miscellany News and an honors history major, noted a growing disappointment among seniors with the approach of the end of their time at the college. “In me,” she said, “it’s taken the form of not caring anymore. It’s the feeling that there was nothing you could have done about the place.” There was at Vassar, she added “no way to expand your horizons.”

Trustee John F. Dooling’s response to Miss Slocum, that the trustees “are not trying to adjust you to the world but to maladjust you to a bad world,” provoked Ellen Kovner ’67, a student observer to the discussion, to say, “You’re doing us an injustice—you’re turning our discontent into something admirable.” Miss McAfee concluded this part of the conversation, declaring, “This education is precisely to maladjust you to a bad world, and it doesn’t do that—it lulls you into complacency.”

Other student speakers were Eve Slater ’67, an honors chemistry major, and Jane Rubens ’67, an English major. “I have felt,” Miss Slater said, “a day by day, hour by hour learning process,” adding “my education here has been special, but it is in jeopardy in terms of the future,” and Miss Rubens said, “I am one of those who, given a choice, would come here again, but it isn’t that this place is perfect.”

In conclusion, Marcia Sneden ’67, the program’s moderator and the acting CGA president, summed up the attitude of the senor class as one of “withdrawal, retreat, frustration and quietism.”

The Miscellany News

The Years